COMMENTARY | On Saturday, December 29, 2012, at UFC 155, Cain Velasquez will face Champion Junior dos Santos in an attempt to regain the heavyweight title. This will be the second time that these two warriors face off. The first time that they met in the octagon occurred on November 12, 2011, at UFC on Fox 1: Velasquez vs. dos Santos.
At the time, Velasquez was undefeated and ruled over the heavyweight division with an iron fist. In his undefeated streak, all, except for one, of Velasquez's fights ended in a knockout. He even handily defeated former heavyweight champions in Brock Lesnar, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and perennial gatekeeper Cheick Kongo. Taking these accolades into account, many were taken aback by Velasquez's knockout loss to dos Santos in just 64 seconds of the first round at UFC on Fox 1.
To return to the #1 contender's slot, the California native went on to destroy and knock out Antonio "Big Foot" Silva at UFC 146. However, if Velasquez loses to dos Santos a second time, he will be forced to reflect and reconsider his career. The former heavyweight champion presently finds himself in an "all or nothing" situation, which is eerily similar to that of Josh Koscheck in 2010.
At UFC 74, Georges St. Pierre defeated Koscheck via unanimous decision. Then, three years later, St. Pierre and Koscheck were scheduled to fight again - this time for the welterweight championship. At the UFC 124 pre-fight conference, a stern St. Pierre exclaimed:
"When I'm gonna beat him (Koscheck), it's gonna be the end of it. It's gonna be two times that I beat him; and if he has the same mentality as me, Josh Koscheck's gonna have to reconsider the career. Because if he wants to be the best, now he's gonna lose two times to me, it's gonna take a long time again before he goes to the title, or maybe never again. So, he's gonna have to climb up the ladder a long time. So, I'm gonna beat him Saturday night, and it's gonna be the end of it."
Koscheck lost to St. Pierre at UFC 124, and as the Canadian prophesized, Koscheck hasn't been involved in any talks to challenge for the welterweight title since.
If Velasquez loses at UFC 155, like Koscheck, his career and chances of ever challenging for the title again will be in jeopardy while dos Santos is champion. Even if the Brazilian loses his title to a future opponent, Velasquez would most likely have to face dos Santos in his climb back up the title contention ladder.
Velasquez's interesting predicament is also reminiscent of the Chael Sonnen/Anderson Silva saga. It appeared that Sonnen was able to beat everyone in the middleweight division, except for the champion. After having lost to Silva twice for the middleweight championship, Sonnen reconsidered his career. He is currently fighting at light heavyweight and is scheduled to face the champion, Jon Jones, in April 2013.
As for Velasquez, no discussion has come about concerning career options should he lose to dos Santos on December 29. In fact, Velasquez is confident in his training, and is more than convinced that his skills will garner him the win. In a recent interview, Velasquez stated:
"Going out there, taking him down and finishing him on top would be the ultimate thing for me. The whole reason I'm here to fight now is to be the best, to be the champ. I'm going to prove I'm the best when I take my belt back. There's nobody better than me, especially Junior dos Santos."
At UFC 155, Velasquez will be presented with the opportunity to illustrate his elite talent and become a 2-time UFC heavyweight champion. If he fails, however, suffering two losses to the champion would require a complete reconstruction of Velasquez's camp and obligate the former heavyweight champion to reanalyze and reassess his options and career as a whole.
Clinton Alexander Bullock lives in California and has been a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner for many years. He has studied mixed martial arts for 12 years and has been published in the Philadelphia Sunday Sun Newspaper, Next Step Magazine and Yahoo! Sports.
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